Psystar launches Mac cloning tool

Rebel EFI utility lets users run Apple's Snow Leopard on generic PCs

Mac clone maker Psystar yesterday started selling a utility that lets owners of generic PCs install and run Apple's Snow Leopard operating system.

Dubbed "Rebel EFI," the utility allows PCs equipped with Intel Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, i7 or Xeon Nehalem processors to run Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard. Psystar has priced Rebel EFI at $49.99, and offers a trial version with "limited hardware functionality." The free edition runs Snow Leopard only in two-hour chunks, however.

"The most common hardware set-ups are compatible [with Rebel EFI]," Psystar claimed in a statement. "Through PsyLabs we will continue to work toward the Rebel EFI supporting an ever-broader range of hardware profiles."

There was no indication that Rebel EFI will run on lower-powered netbooks, which typically are equipped with Intel's Atom CPUs.

The move is a follow-up to the announcement Psystar made earlier this month, when it said it would license its technology to other clone makers so they could offer Mac knock-offs.

Psystar and Apple have been battling in a California federal court since July 2008, when Apple sued Psystar over the latter's practice of installing Apple's Mac OS X on generic Intel computers. In August, Psystar filed a suit of its own in a Florida federal court, accusing Apple of illegally tying Snow Leopard to Mac hardware.

Rebel EFI also supports Windows 7 , the new operating system that Microsoft launched yesterday , Psystar said. "Through the use of the Darwin Universal Boot Loader, available in the full version of the Rebel EFI, computers are capable of installing and running multiple operating systems, including the newly released Windows 7 as well as XP, Vista, various Linux flavors and Snow Leopard," the company said.

The Darwin Universal Boot Loader (DUBL) -- a small program that starts up Mac OS X 10.6 on Intel-based PCs -- also is the foundation of the technology that Psystar will license to other computer makers. Psystar first talked up DUBL last July, and referenced it in its August lawsuit, where it said the utility "makes use of features of Mac OS X Snow Leopard designed to allow software developers to extend Mac OS X Snow Leopard to work with different hardware."

The clone maker noted that Apple's intent was not to allow rivals to build Intel machines capable of running the new operating system. "Admittedly, Apple hopes that this hardware [would] be peripherals such as video camera or USB memory sticks, but nothing in the technology of Mac OS X Snow Leopard prevents use of the same facilities to extend Mac OS X Snow Leopard for use on non-Apple personal computers," Psystar's lawyers argued in the August complaint.

The utility can be purchased or downloaded from Psystar's site. Rebel EFI is delivered as a 7.6MB.iso file that must be burned to a CD before use. Psystar has also posted a set of instructions on how to use the utility to install Snow Leopard on a PC.

Apple company policy prevents it from commenting on pending litigation.

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